Bitcoin’s mining wars have resulted in a notable growth in energy consumption of the network. The overall system is now projected to consume more than 77.8TWh this year, which is as much as the entire country of Chile. This has started a renewed debate regarding the overall sustainability of the cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work System
Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work (PoW) system is one of the most basic, unadulterated brute force mining systems in any cryptocurrency network. It still functions largely the way it was envisaged and its energy dedication has been increasing year after year at an astronomical pace. Now other cryptocurrencies that came late have shifted slightly or completely away from this energy-intensive system. Litecoin (LTC) uses Hashing which consumes much less energy overall while others like Cardano (ADA), Ethereum (ETH) and others have moved completely away to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) based ownership. The PoS is very efficient but to many cryptocurrency purists, it is not as secure and goes against some fundamentals of the sector.
But, there is no denying that Bitcoin’s power requirements are getting too high. According to Charless Hoskinson, founder of Cardano and co-founder of Ethereum, Bitcoin’s sustainability is in question. He said:
The more successful bitcoin gets, the higher the price goes; the higher the price goes, the more competition for bitcoin; and thus the more energy is expended to mine.”
Other networks accuse Bitcoin users and network as a whole to be very stubborn and resistant to positive change. But, that is not true entirely. The network is quite capable of improving its technology with time. The implementation of the Lightning Network and various other upgrades have shown that the network can adopt. There is also some wisdom in moving slowly but surely ahead as Bitcoin has demonstrated over the years.
Is Use of Energy Just Bad?
According to some, Bitcoin’s power usage is a useful use overall for the abundant energy sources just lying around. Most of Bitcoin’s electricity is from renewable resources, especially cheap hydroelectric power plants and sometimes wind and solar. Non-renewable sources just aren’t sustainable enough for mining purposes because of high costs involved in the process.
According to Coinshares’ Meltem Demirors :
What we have here is people trying to decide what is or is not a good use of energy, and bitcoin is incredibly transparent in its energy use while other industries are much more opaque.”
Bitcoin also uses less energy overall than inactive electronic devices in America. So, the debate is much more complex with renewable energy resources involved and Bitcoin getting efficient over time.
Image source: Comparitech.com under CC